🍑 NJ's peach picking season is in full swing and looks to be a good one

🍑 NJ has the perfect climate and soil for growing peaches

🍑 NJ peaches should be in abundance through Labor Day


Peach picking season has just started in New Jersey with some light volume but very soon, the state should be in full swing with an abundant supply of yellow and white flesh peaches right through Labor Day.

Peaches pulled by a tractor at Heilig Farms, Mullica Hill, NJ (Chad Puschel)
Peaches pulled by a tractor at Heilig Farms, Mullica Hill, NJ (Chad Puschel)
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How does NJ’s peach season look?

It should be a great peach growing season this year compared to 2022, said Tom Beaver, Director of Sales and Marketing at Sunny Valley International and The Jersey Fruit Cooperative.

Last year, the crop overall was about 30 to 40 percent off from being what is referred to as a full crop.

“This year, we’re in the very unique and fortunate position of having a full crop, and I say unique and fortunate because sadly, southeastern peach growers experienced some significant cold weather in South Carolina and Georgia that virtually wiped out their crops,” Beaver said.

New Jersey is now in a position where it did not have that same outcome. The state had perfect weather throughout the winter, and so far, the weather has been very cooperative throughout the spring and early summer.

“We have an abundant supply of peaches and I think very strong demand since we’re going to be the primary shippers on the Eastern seaboard,” Beaver said.

Sentry peach (Chad Puschel)
Sentry peach (Chad Puschel)
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What are perfect peach growing conditions?

Generally, New Jersey has an ideal climate for growing peaches. It gets plenty of cool temperatures during the winter months which allows for all the chill hours that the peach trees need. Then, during this time of year, hot, humid days, and cooler nights are ideal for peach production, Beaver explained.

Soil conditions are perfectly suited for peach production as well, and New Jersey is fortunate to have varieties that are bred for the state’s unique climate.

What are the first varieties of peaches coming on the scene?

Beaver said the first two varieties of peaches popping up in New Jersey are Glenglo and Sentry. Both have a rich, red color, delicious flavor profile, and high sugar content.

“These are all the things people are looking for when they bite into, what we say, is the dessert item in the produce aisle,” Beaver said.

In July, the primary variety of peaches is called John Boy. That’s a freestone peach (peaches with flesh that’s easily removed from the pit) that’s perfectly suited for New Jersey’s growing condition.

Sentry cluster (Chad Puschel)
Sentry cluster (Chad Puschel)
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When is the right time to pick a peach?

Look for a peach that has a full-color profile when it’s on the tree. “When you go to pick it, I think you should look for some early tenderness because that means it’s near ripe if you’re looking to pick a tree-ripened peach and you don’t want to wait a few days with it on your kitchen counter for it to fully ripen,” Beaver said.

When you get the hand feel on the peach, you’re looking for a little bit of give on the skin which would tell you that the peach is almost ready to be eaten. He said if you leave that peach on the counter for 24 to 48 hours, you’re guaranteed an outstanding peach-eating experience.

Peach growers know when to pick peaches, Beaver said. Their goal is to make sure that by the time peaches land in supermarkets or at farmstands, it is going to be picked and ready at peak ripeness for consumers.

NJ peaches (Chad Puschel)
NJ peaches (Chad Puschel)
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How should peaches be stored at home?

Unless that peach is already ripe and ready to eat by the time they are brought home from picking, be sure to leave them out at room temperature until it ripens, Beaver suggested. If it is not possible to eat all the peaches that were picked, they will store ripe in the refrigerator for a few days, he added.

Yellow peaches (Chris Puschel)
Yellow peaches (Chris Puschel)
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What makes a Jersey peach different from other peaches?

“We know that we have the most outstanding growers in the country and that’s everything from large-scale wholesale peach growers to the smaller growers who have a few blocks of peaches for their farmstands,” Beaver said.

There is so much peach production in New Jersey, which may take many people by surprise, because of its perfect growing conditions, like the soil and the climate.

When consumers are looking to buy peaches at a supermarket, there is no comparison between a Jersey peach and a peach that had to sit on a truck for days coming from California.

“I don’t think anything screams summer in New Jersey quite like a tree-ripened, fresh, ready-to-eat-peach,” Beaver said.

Jersey Fresh Produce is already starting to come to market

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